Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Note to Self by Connor Franta

Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Note to Self by Connor Franta
In his New York Times bestselling memoir, A Work In Progress, Connor Franta shared his journey from small-town Midwestern boy to full-fledged Internet sensation. Exploring his past with humour and astounding insight, Connor reminded his fans of why they first fell in love with him on YouTube - and revealed to newcomers how he relates to his millions of dedicated followers. Now, two years later, Connor is ready to bring to light a side of himself he's rarely shown on or off camera. In this diary - like a look at his life since A Work In Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment - with others and himself. Told through short essays, letters to his past and future selves, poetry and original photography, Note to Self is a raw, in-the-moment look at the fascinating interior life of a young creator turning inward in order to move forward.

Note to Self was a book that I'd been waiting to be released since the announcement, and as soon as I saw it in my bookstore I needed it right then and there. I picked it up, bought it (well, my mum kindly did), went home and read it, finished it, and now I'm writing this review. All in the same day. I usually find memoirs and non-fiction work harder to get through, purely because I tend to find it slightly boring - shall we say? Note to Self was not this. At all. The book made me laugh, reduced me to tears, and had me feeling shaky at times because of how well Connor just, gets it. It was, at points, like reading my own life through a lens (no pun intended). The book, - how can I put this? - was utterly brilliant. It's raw, honest, and he doesn't shy away from the difficult things like depression, anxiety and heartbreak. 

I'm going to start by talking about the photography in this book, because it's fucking gorgeous. There were so many times I turned the page and to exhale because of the image that was there. Connor, without a doubt, is a very talented person - and this book just oozes that confident creativity that seems to come hand in hand with his very persona. The photography spans nature, architecture, sunsets, people, even simple everyday items like bikes and coffee. And it's all absolutely stunning. The only thing I felt that the photography was lacking sometimes, was anecdotes. For me, little stories right along with the images that are shared would have just brightened up the pictures. Not that they aren't truly capable of standing on their own. In fact, there's a picture of a sunset that I would mind having as a print on my wall. 

The little poems and notes dotted throughout Note to Self were some of my favourite things about the book. Some of them were simple and straight forward, and others left the words spinning around my head long after I had read them, continually finding a new meaning for the phrases each time. I'm not sure if this is where Note to Self is the most honest, but it's definitely where it is in it's purest form. having five words on the page that stand so starkly against everything else are very difficult to hide from, and Connor's thoughts and feelings came through so vividly in these parts of the book.

The short essays are where the honesty really shines through, - and that's not to say the rest of the book isn't honest, because it feels like one of the most honest books I've read in a long time - it's where Connor truly lays it all on the line. In a mix of formal, essay style writing and then familiar asides in which his personality truly comes out, the essays explore topics in his life from coming out as gay to his thoughts on social media to his experiences with depression and anxiety and all the way back to stories about strangers helping him in the most unexpected, yet simple ways. The essays truly tie the entire book together, in a beautifully insightful - and yet absolutely not condescending at all - way. 

Throughout this entire book you can just tell how much effort Connor and his team put into making it. From photograph placement to even the content in general, it is put together in a way that makes it difficult to refuse the idea of it being an undeniable piece of art.

"But there was only rain, and we could only run so far."


  1. This book sounds amazing, even though I have no idea who the author is.

    Like you, I sometimes struggle with memoirs and autobiographies. I think they have to be really special in order for me to truly enjoy them. But it sounds like this one was that kind of story, which is awesome.

    I often feel the same way about photos. I can marvel at and appreciate their beauty, but sometimes I would just like something from the photographer, something to make it more emotive. But it's great that you were able to enjoy them without that added commentary, anyway.

    I'm so glad you liked this one so much, lovely! <3

    1. Connor Franta is a YouTuber! I don't really watch his videos anymore as they just don't appeal to me that much right now, but this book is just beautifully put together, you should definitely check it out!